Over the last few weeks, I have been paying attention to my inner dialogue. Growing up, I learned a lot about the importance of “positive self-talk” when performing a skill. My understanding was that self-talk boosts confidence in one’s self because the words or phrases you are using like “you got this!” are motivating and putting you in a positive mental state. After reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and some self reflection, I have a new outlook and a deeper understanding of how inner dialogue can take a toll when it doesn’t have to.
As the self proclaimed “Positive Coach”, I took a lot of pride in my mastery of positive self-talk and how I passed it along to my students. I recently had a realization that my “go-getter” self-talk, is only surface level and self-talk is more nuanced than that. I noticed that I have another, completely different, type of inner dialogue going on as well. It isn’t necessarily negative, but there is a side of me that is constantly judging and attaching meaning to circumstances that I am in. This is the side of me that likes to feel in control and resists when I am scared of discomfort. I resist by over thinking about how I can protect myself, instead of just accepting what IS.
An example is the weather where I live. Moss Beach is the foggiest place in the Bay Area, and I am a lizard who needs sun. When I see a forecast of fog for the next 10 days, I tend to say to myself “It doesn’t feel like summer when it is foggy. I want to wear shorts. I don’t like being cold.” I go on and on with thoughts like these, and I get really down on myself. I don’t want to feel a certain way (cold), so I create a story about it that is driven by fear. I attach feelings to the circumstance instead of just saying, “it’s foggy.”… Yep. And leaving it at that.
My inner voice can be exhausting and takes up so much space in my mind and body! My mind spins about all kinds of things that could happen in the future. This is anxiety and I didn’t even realize it. With this new understanding, I now know that I don’t need a rabbit hole of thoughts. Just accept it and put on a jacket.
Acceptance without resistance skips the spiraling self-talk. Acceptance is being ok with where you are and without judging yourself. Situations aren’t good or bad, they just are. This is different from a stagnant “it is what it is” mentality because you can always take action to change your life. Acceptance doesn’t mean you are stuck. Acceptance is the courage to know you can be comfortable even if something is uncomfortable. Acceptance is resilience and moving forward. For me, this is the most positive perspective anyone can have.
My fog scenario may seem simple, but I learned that I can apply this concept to any situation by simply noticing my thoughts. Acceptance is so much easier! I have found that now that I am aware of my regular mental gymnastics, I can surrender and let it go.
I am excited to adapt my coaching and teaching methods to reflect my new learning about thought patterns and self talk. I plan to continue to teach positive self-talk, and add in a lesson about non-judgment and acceptance of what is. I am hoping my deeper understanding of myself will help me be a better coach this fall.